Friday, January 30, 2009

Saint Valentine Basilica- Terni, Umbria

Saint Valentine Basilica

Saint Valentine, Terni's first Bishop, died in 273 on the orders of the Roman prefect Placidus Furius during the persecutions ordered by the Emperor Aurelius.

The history and the Legend

His life, given to the apostolate and enobled by his matyrdom, induced the citizens of Terni in 1644 to proclaim him the Patron Saint of the City and the Patron Saint of Lovers.

But the fame of Saint Valentine all over the world is due to the legend which originated in the anglo-saxon countries, that he used to make the present of a flower from his own garden to his young visitors. Two of these young people fell in love; and this love resulted in a union so happy that many other couples followed their example. Because of this Saint the church was induced to dedicate one day of the year to a general benediction of the state of matrimony. The present Basilica was built in 1605 on the ruins of precedent temples, and contains works of art of a certain interest, in particular in the crypt.

Every year in the February month Terni celebrates Saint Valentine, the patron saint of town, with a series of cultural and religious meetings.

For a current list of events:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Seeds From Italy

Some of you may know, one of my other hobbies is growing things. It doesn't really matter what, so it would stand to reason that after digging thorough lots of hardware stores in Italy. I would have to find a local source for those seeds from Italy. As every gardener knows it is the gentics that provide the taste we all crave in our cooking I personally have purchased a batch of seeds this year and will post stories and insights as I try and adapt my seeds from Italy to the Northern Virginia heat and humidity.

I would like introduce to you "Seeds from Italy". They are the U.S. mail order distributor for Franchi Sementi spa of Bergamo, Italy, Italian seedsmen since 1783. Their Italian Vegetable seeds are traditional Italian varieties, chosen by discriminating Italian cooks over the years.

Offering more than 350 varieties of traditional Italian vegetable, herb & flower seeds.
They also have detailed instructions & tips on how to grow Italian vegetables and, Italian recipes and tips on how to cook our vegetables the Italian way.
The 2008 Catalog is available on line. You can download it & the cover which has all the pictures of the seed varieties. Just click here: 2009 Catalog. It is in adobe format so you need an adobe reader to view it.

He also publishs a quarterly newsletter filled with growing tips, trial garden results, recipes, new items, etc.
Visit the Newsletter here: Newsletters
To subscribe to Growitalian News, click here: Subscribe
There are more than 20 new varieties including peppers, tomatoes, escarole, zucchini, beans & cardoon.
Mail: Seeds from Italy, PO Box 149, Winchester, MA 01890 Email: or TEL: 781 721 5904 FAX: 612 435 4020

Venice For Carnival

This offer came in the other day and I have to say the Carnival and Venice are made for each other. If you can make it, this would be a wonderful Valentines present for anyone.

Escape to the fabulous city of Venice, where you can join the magic of its Carnival. You can visit a historical Venetian atelier of Carnival costumes and masks and take part to a guided tour through Venice squares and alleys, walking together with 18th century dames and noblemen, goblins, pierrots and harlequins.The charm of Boscolo Dei Dogi, will welcome you offering a special promotion for this event.

The offer, valid from 13 to 24 February, includes all taxes and the following benefits:
2 nights per 2 persons;
breakfast 2 Dinners at hotel’s restaurant Giardino di Luca (3 courses, drinks not included)
Venice guided tour (2 hours) with pick up at the hotel
visit of a historical Venetian atelier of Carnival costumes and masks
complimentary extra-bed for child under the age of 12 sharing the room with their parents. Discount of 50% offered to children under the age of 12 for meals at the hotel’s restaurant.
Rates starting from 673,00 euros at current Euro rae of 1.3 that is $875.00 For 2 nights in Boscolo Experience room, all benefits included
Information and booking:Boscolo Dei Dogi -

Their website takes a while to load but it is like a breath of Italy in your screen.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

La Segreta Villa Rental- Umbria

Your Own Private Villa in Umbria, Italy:

Looking for a special place to celebrate your birthday or anniversary with family or a close group of friends? Then consider Bike Riders' exclusive Villa La Segreta, a newly restored luxury villa outside of Todi, Italy. Set on 70 acres of green Umbrian countryside, the historic stone villa is a wonderful blend of old and new. Terracotta floors, high oak beams, wrought iron chandeliers and large stone fireplaces are balanced with modern luxuries such as air conditioning, washer/dryer, flat screen television and a beautiful infinity pool. Perfect for up to 8 people, the property is close to the villages of Todi, Deruta, Assisi, Montefalco and Perugia. Walking trails, biking and golfing are all nearby. Set in a nature reserve amidst olive groves, chestnut trees and cypress-lined lanes, we invite you to see more by visiting or contact Eileen at for details and availability.

During our stay we enjoyed the market at Marsciano, the largest town near the villa has a market on Monday mornings. Markets are in the mornings only. They start winding down by 12 noon and an earlier visit is better! Cooking lessons in Perugia, for the ladies while the men played golf.

Allow about 2 hours to the villa from Rome. Orvieto is a nice stop en route for is about 1 hour North of Rome. You might like to visit the town and have lunch, and then drive another hour to the house. Graziano the caretaker will have the house open and show you how things work. He will also review the telephone and electric meters with you--at the end of the stay he will do the same and note your consumption--this amount will be deducted from your security deposit.

Graziano is a dear friend of the owners and is also in charge of the running of the property. You will see him on the tractor or in the fields and he will bring Nela to the house for the housekeeping. He will be happy to assit you with any questions in regard to the house or pool.

We reccomend you order the dinner they offer for an additional charge to be delivered to the house on Saturday evening. They also provided a welcome basket with essentials--milk, jam, crackers, water, coffee, etc. If you prefer to stop before the house, you can stop at "Andreani" in the village of Collepepe (see driving directions ---but they do not open until after 5:00 pm.) BUT, Andreani is also open again on Sunday morning until noon--there is also a pasta shop in Collepepe that is open on Sunday morning.

The villa has a complete water filtering system installed. The water is perfectly fine for bathing, cooking and brushing your teeth. We still prefer the taste and quality of bottled water for consumption. There will be some flat and sparkling water at the house--if you think you need a lot you can always pick up more at the "AutoGrill" shops on the highway, or at Andreani.

If you want to use the pizza oven please just explain to Graziano--he can need to allow a couple of hours for the wood to burn and to heat the oven up before you can use it. Also, please be sure that the fire is safely extinguished by the end of the night.

(FYI, there is also a Weber charcoal grill and a great farm store nearby that sells it's own Florentine steaks, sausages, veal ,etc--they are open Wed-Sunday))

Upon arrival, there is a book of information at the villa, plus a welcome basket...we supply basics to get you started such as milk, juice, water, coffee and fruit, as well as paper towels and toilet paper. These are enough to get you through the night and for breakfast the next morning. Andreani is a very nice small market in Collepepe that is open on Sundays until 12 noon. They have all staples, plus a nice selection of cheeses, salumi and wine. You might like to run down to this store on Sunday am ...

On Monday, the A&O Supermarket is open in Deruta..This is a larger market and a good choice for re-stocking your paper towels/napkins/toilet paper and also has a large selection of foodstuffs.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Foti's Restaurant Culpeper, Va

If you're ready for a new fine-dining experience, it's time to visit Foti's Restaurant in Culpeper, Virginia. The superb service, delicate flavors, and extraordinary wines rival those of the finest restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area. Indeed, owners Frank and Sue Maragos refined their talents at the world-famous Inn at Little Washington prior to opening Foti's in 2005. Yet the friendly atmosphere and small-town hospitality are uniquely Foti's, which is why the establishment bears Frank's childhood nickname. "It's like we're family, like we've known each other forever," he says.An hour's drive from Fairfax to rural Culpeper carries you to a world where fresh, all-natural produce are as close as next door. Whether you're seeking a casual lunch or an elegant evening, it's worth the trip!In season, Foti's menu revolves around the finest local products, including grass-fed beef and lamb, handmade cheeses, and heirloom vegetables and herbs. Or if you prefer, seafood barely a day out of the water arrives by air three times a week. Savor tuna from Hawaii, salmon from Alaska, lobster from Maine, or sea scallops from Massachusetts.Chef Maragos says guests often ask for his secret to the restaurant's delectable dishes. "Mother Nature makes the flavor," he answers. "We just take care of it and bring it to you."So enjoy an evening drive down scenic country roads. Or, better yet, make a day of it and explore Culpeper and all that Virginia's Piedmont has to offer. Whenever you're ready, settle down at Foti's for an enchanting meal that combines all-natural ingredients, delightful presentations, outstanding wines, impeccable service, and the leisure to enjoy it all. What you'll experience is pure magic.

Foti's Restaurant - 219 East Davis Street - Culpeper - Virginia
For reservations call 540/829-8400